Telzleh's Quest: Part Four
As soon as Telzleh reappeared, a loud guitar chord sent her jumping up in the air as a loud crowd cheered. As soon as she landed, however, everything went quiet. Looking in front of her, she saw a crowd of various Neopets, mostly orange Grundos, look up at her in shock and disbelief. Wondering what was wrong, the Mutant turned around and gasped. Right behind her were a quartet of Orange Grundo musicians she knew quite well from the few times she visited the Tyrannian Concert Hall: Gruundo.
The four musicians just looked at her speechlessly, wondering how she managed to appear just like that. Telzleh too was completely dumbstruck. The amulet had teleported her so far to a creepy sanatorium and in the middle of a blizzard, but she never thought she would be transported right in the middle of a Gruundo concert! As Telzleh moved her gaze between the band and the crowd, she smiled and waved as she laughed nervously.
Suddenly, a pair of green Grundo security guards dressed in strange metallic armor appeared from the side of the stage hovering a few inches off the air with strange footwear, grabbed Telzleh, and disappeared with her backstage. Where was she? This was definitely not Tyrannia, for these guards looked too technologically advanced to be prehistoric!
She was then kicked out of the back door leading to an alley as the security guards slammed the door behind her. After getting up, she walked outside the alley to get a better view of where she was. As she headed out in the open, she was nearly knocked over by a gruff orange Grundo. Before she could call him out, she quickly noticed even more orange Grundos everywhere mingling with Neopets wearing strange outfits that she never saw before. Her eyes started to dart everywhere. It was some kind of city with buildings made of metal that she never saw anywhere in Neopia before. Strange electric signs and lights were everywhere and mysterious hovering vehicles zoomed by in strangely built roads. Where was she?
She looked up and saw a large glass dome showing the starry sky... with Neopia seen in the distance?! The only place she could think of where Neopia could be seen this way was one of two locations. From the lack of any Dr. Sloth-related propaganda, she quickly realized she was not in the Virtupets Space Station, but Kreludor! The amulet took her to the moon!
Telzleh was about to take out the medallion from within her black mane to start her search when she heard the door she was thrown out of burst open. She looked back to see what happened. The guards reappeared as they pushed out an orange Grundo girl out of the building and closed the door.
“Yeah, well, hope Sloth turns all of you into Mutant slaves! Hmph!” she called out as Telzleh approached her.
The Grundo had long black hair with green and blue highlights mixed around which gave her a grungy appearance. She was dressed in a dirty white T-shirt, black leather jacket with matching trousers, and heavy looking black boots. Studs and earrings were placed all over her two antennae and she looked very angry.
As the Grundo got close to Telzleh, she smiled at her despite still sporting a scowl. “You’re that mutant that appeared on the stage in the middle of the gig. You got some guts to do that, girlie. How did you manage it? Cloaking device? Teleporter?”
Telzleh scratched the back of her head and nervously replied, “Uh, thanks. Well, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
The Grundo girl folded her arms and cocked her head sideways with sass. “Try me. Whoa, come to think of it, where’s your helmet? This dome's got a generator pumping fresh air from Neopia since normal Neopets can't handle Kreludor's all-natural atmosphere like we Grundos do. The nearest spaceport is in the next dome, so how'd you get here without one?”
The Mutant gulped at being asked so many questions. "Well, you see... I got zapped by this, um, uh, Dark Faerie! Really! I told her I so wanted to see a Gruundo concert despite them not being in Tyrannia until the end of the month, so she magically sent to see them. But I was surprised she actually sent me up here to Kreludor and right in the middle of the stage! Can you believe that?"
The girl whistled. “Amazing. I knew faeries were powerful and all, but to grant wishes like that? That’s totally out of this world!”
Telzleh asked her then, “So what happened with you? Why did they throw you out?”
The Grundo scoffed. “Bunch of uptight idiots... I sneak inside one little concert without paying and they throw the book at you!”
“That’s harsh, Miss.” Telzleh nodded in agreement.
The girl turned to her with a confused look. “Miss? No need for that sort of formalities. Name’s Zuxie. What’s yours, girlie?”
Telzleh was surprised at her straightforward attitude. Nevertheless she tried to play it cool as well. “I’m Telzleh. Pleased to meet you,” she said as she shook her hand.
As she did, the amulet started to glow faintly. Taking it out from behind her mane, Telzleh saw the compass stones flicker right in front of Zuxie. The Grundo simply stared at it in awe.
"So shiny...” she said as she stood transfixed in its glow.
Within minutes, Telzleh realized that Gruundo concert-crashing was intended for her to meet this strange girl. Somehow, she held the energy she was sent here for. But how? She just met her and didn’t know what she would want to gather the energy. As she tried to figure out how, she finally noticed Zuxie was still staring at the amulet. Telzleh immediately hid it back in her mane, which snapped her out of it.
Zuxie then looked at her and smirked. “So you got here by magic, huh? I bet I can help you around if you like...”
Telzleh arched her eyebrow. “Really? How?”
The Grundo smirked even more slyly as she placed her hand over Telzleh’s mane. “Oh, maybe I can just... Psyche!”
With that, Zuxie grabbed the amulet in hopes of snapping it off Telzleh’s neck. Instead, a powerful force emanated from the amulet which sent the Grundo flying and crashing against a wall nearby. The Usul was aghast. Did this girl actually try to rob her?! She had thoughts of reporting her to the proper authorities, but she was an energy carrier so she tried to ignore her brazen robbery attempt. Still, she wondered just why the amulet reacted that way when it was grabbed by someone other than her.
Picking her up by the scruff of the jacket, Telzleh hauled her up and saw a glazed-over look in her eyes as she moaned in a daze. “Whoa. Miss Jinjix... I don’t want to go to classes today... Just gimme a few more minutes to sleep... Uh...”
Telzleh shook her a few times and the girl finally snapped out of it. “Ouch. That's some force field you got there. Just where did you get that thing anyway?” she finally replied as she looked at her apologetically.
“What’s the big idea, trying to rob me, huh? I should take you to the Defenders for doing that!” Telzleh said in a faked angry tone.
Zuxie held up her hands and sighed with annoyance. “Great. Just my luck! First my best friend gets locked away because her stupid dad thinks I’m bad influence and now I’ll get sent to jail. All I need now is to get slimed by a baby fungus!”
“Your best friend? What happened?” Telzleh asked her.
Zuxie scowled back at her. “It’s none of your beeswax! Just take me to the Defenders already and get this over with!”
Telzleh let go of her jacket and looked at her sternly. “No, I want to hear more. You look like you need help and call me crazy, but I would like to help.”
Zuxie cocked her head once more. “You serious? I just tried to steal that amulet for some quick NP and you are willing to help me with my troubles? Telz, you are a strange one, but OK. Come on. Let me take you home. If you came here by magic, you need some place to crash.”
“Heh. Thanks. You sure you won’t try to pull anything funny again?” Telzleh asked with caution as she followed the Grundo girl.
Zuxie turned around with a smug grin. “Think I’d be crazy enough to try anything funny after that jolt from the amulet you carry? No thanks. I’m serious. Now come on!”
Telzleh nodded and followed. A nagging worry bit at her side incessantly. By the looks of this girl, wherever she lived was certainly not going to be pretty. Telzleh was, however, willing to withstand everything if it meant getting her hands on the energy she held. Her wish depended on it!
"...remember. You want to be an Acara again! An Acara again!"
The mantra ran through Telzleh's brain non-stop as she tried hard not to gag at the sight of the mess before her eyes. Zuxie's apartment was worse than she imagined. The floor was littered with trash and moldy food remains. Every piece of furniture was covered in dirty laundry that could very well have sentience of its own. The walls, where there was no grime or grease stains, were filled with Gruundo posters. This place was a maid's worst nightmare come to life.
"It’s not AstroVilla, but it’s home. Make yourself comfortable while I go whip up some food from the fridge,” the orange Grundo said with a grin as she weaved her way through the trash towards her kitchen.
Telzleh gulped as she tried to sit on a couch nearby and turned her face away to avoid smelling some old T-shirts nearby giving off a stench that would make even dung smell like fresh roses. As she turned her eyes away, she looked at the small table near the couch and found something that interested her. Between some empty cans of Achyfi and an empty nacho basket with cheese sauce bits still lingering, she saw a small book. Carefully moving her paw through the garbage, she picked up the book with the tip of her claws and brought it to her lap and opened it up.
It appeared to be a photo album of sorts. As she leafed through the pages, she saw most of the pictures were of a small orange Grundo with beautiful long black hair. Zuxie when she was little, maybe?
Most pictures showed her as a little girl playing with several other Grundos her age, but especially with a purple Grundo girl with long blond hair. Zuxie looked especially happy in all the photos shown with her playing with this stranger. One photo in particular made her sad as she saw Zuxie look depressed towards the camera as in the distance she saw the same purple Grundo girl being taken away in a fancy looking machine with a luxuriously dressed older purple Grundo by her side. From then on, the pictures of her seemed sad as she became older.
The final pages showed her as she was now as a teen dressed in the clothes she wore now but also showing with a purple Grundo with blond hair, a white jumpsuit with lavender stripes and a silver metallic hairband at her side. Pictures involving these two showed Zuxie extremely happy as they were shown in various places having fun.
“Hey! Who told you to go snoop at my private album, huh?” the Grundo snapped from behind her.
Telzleh jumped up with a start, turned around and saw Zuxie with her arms akimbo and tapping her foot against the floor.
“Who is that girl with you in all these pictures?” Telzleh asked her curiously.
Zuxie turned her back to her and lowered her head. “My sister...”
“Your sister? Is she the one you mentioned earlier? But didn’t you say ‘best friend’?” Telzleh wondered aloud.
Zuxie turned around with a frown, only to slowly soften it up and look at her with sadness. “It’s the same thing. We’re blood sisters...”
It was now Telzleh’s turn to cock her head sideways. Zuxie jumped over the couch and landed on the side next to her mutant guest. Sighing again, she began.
“I used to live in Miss Jinjix’s Home for Lost Grundos, an orphanage. Miss Jinjix tells me I was found on the doorstep when I was a baby, so I don’t know who my parents are. Anyways, as I grew up, I was really close to another girl. Her name was Xiggi. Poor girl, she was always picked on by all the other kids. I felt sorry for her, so I always stood up for her and soon everyone left her alone. She then became my friend ever since.
“We were inseparable from then on. It was always Xiggi and me. We played together. We ate together. We studied together. We liked to be around one another. One day we decided to form a pact of sisterhood to forever join us as family. Even if we ended up being adopted, we’d always look out for one another. Yeah, I though the happy days would never end.
“But they did. Xiggi got adopted by this super rich Grundo who made his fortune in the security business. She pleaded for me to be adopted too, but that stubborn old man didn’t even want me, saying I was... rabble. That really hurt me a lot. So Xiggi soon left and I was alone. I didn’t want to be with anyone ever again. As the years went by, nobody wanted to adopt me and Miss Jinjix eventually passed on. The orphanage closed down and I was finally all alone. I then took to the streets to survive.
“But then one day, I saw her. Xiggi now looked prettier with all her fancy clothes and accessories like a princess as she walked down the street with several guards appointed by her old man to protect her. At first I didn’t want to be there and tried to hide, but she then saw me. She was so happy to see me again and that’s when the sisterhood began anew. It was much harder since her old man kept tabs on her, but she managed to escape their sights every time and we all had a blast. She was kind enough to give me this place of my own and I tried to find a way to make it up to her.
“Sad to say, her father was tired of her relation to me and forbade us from ever contacting each other again. Xiggi at first ignored his orders, but eventually he snapped. Just a few days ago, he locked her up in their fancy mansion complex over at the dark side of Kreludor and told me if I so much as ever made contact with her again, I’d be in a world of trouble. That isn’t fair! She is my sister! I can’t abandon her!”
Telzleh shook her head sadly. She knew how it felt to lose a sister even momentarily when Cassolari went to the hospital for a few days after she was diagnosed with Pollenitus some months back. Pashmandy and Zanzibar were both distraught. Being the second oldest after the Aisha, she did everything she could to keep them with spirits up. There had to be a way to help reunite these two friends. If that was why she was sent here, then she would do it. An added bonus was getting the energy as well.
“If you want to see your sister back, maybe I can help you out,” Telzleh said with a warm smile.
Zuxie looked at her with a confused frown. “You? That man has got security as tight as the National Neopian branch here! No way you can just waltz in without getting blasted!”
Telzleh placed her arm around her shoulder and said, “Then let me be the first. Tell me what you’d like me to do, and I’ll do it. Trust me.”
"The things I do to get my wish..."
Peeking out from behind a rock, she scouted the enormous domed complex where Xiggi lived. Zuxie wasn't kidding when she said security would be tight. Purple Grundo guards were everywhere, all wearing armor and wielding strange-looking guns in their hands as they patrolled within and outside the walls. Getting in to deliver what Zuxie wanted Xiggi to get would not be easy.
"All you must do is deliver this note and this little trinket to her. Everything will be explained later. I’ll meet you at the asteroid craters outside the domes. Please be careful and try to come back in one piece, ok?"
Zuxie's words were still ringing in Telzleh's ears as she walked across the desolate Kreludan landscape towards this area. She was lucky the orange Grundo had a spare helmet around for her to use, as the way to the complex was out in the middle of the moon without any protection. Telzleh didn’t want to know if this helmet was actually bought, lost, or stolen by her; she didn’t care. At least it fit her quite well over her head. Zuxie then gave her a small metallic cube plus a note, which were both tied to another string she decided to wear around her neck. Whatever it was that Zuxie gave her, Zuxie really wanted Xiggi to have it.
She observed the guards and the security cameras mounted on top of the front gates for a while, finally finding a pattern of the camera's movements and the precise moment when the guards were out of range. She got down on all fours and ran furiously towards the closed gates. She was glad she decided to test the strength of her paw and feet claws back at Zuxie's as she extended them fully. With the same finesse back at the Snowager's, she latched onto the gates and scampered up them just before the cameras could see her.
Maintaining her balance, she peeked out from the top of the fence surrounded with electric-charged wires. The complex was much larger than it looked from the outside with various buildings dotting the landscape as more guards and cameras swarmed everywhere. Grumbling to herself, she realized she forgot to ask Zuxie where exactly Xiggi was to be found. However, she managed to spot a small figure near a second-story balcony on the farthest domed building of the complex. Trying hard to focus her third eye, she caught a glimpse of what looked to be white and lavender. That must be Xiggi.
Leaping over the fence and avoiding the electrified wire, she quickly latched on the back of the doors and slowly crawled down. All she had to do now was avoid the platoons of guards and security cameras and she would reach her target. Deep inside, she knew she had never done anything remotely dangerous like this before. However, the nagging thought of regaining her Acarahood drove her onward.
With fast reflexes, she zipped around the guards, hiding in the shadows of buildings and structures. Using her claws, she latched onto different walls and crawled around them to escape the sight of the ever-present cameras. After a grueling half-hour, she finally managed to get to the building she saw Xiggi in. Slowly scaling the metallic walls and hoping no guards on top would see her, she finally reached the balcony and leaped inside.
The room was decorated quite lavishly for a princess. Well, a princess in a technologically advanced setting as Kreludor was. Sitting on the soft canopy bed draped with lavender sheets was Xiggi herself. Telzleh must have been quite stealthy as the Grundo girl had her back turned all this time. With a slow tiptoe, Telzleh entered the room only to bump into a Clockwork Grundo, which began to march. The noise was enough for Xiggi to turn around. The blond-haired Grundo's eyes opened in fear as she let out a piercing scream.
Telzleh ran over to her as the scared Grundo girl receded back in sight of this strange Neopet. "Wait! Stop screaming! Zuxie sent me! Honest she did!" she pleaded.
Xiggi stopped screaming and gasped. "What did you say? My sister sent you?" She then clapped her hands. "Wonderful! I knew she wouldn't give up on me!"
Suddenly, they both heard footsteps rapidly approach the room from outside. Xiggi gasped, "Oh no! The guards! Please hide quickly. I'll take care of them!"
Telzleh looked everywhere but was too tensed-up to think clearly where to hide. Without a second thought, she leaped onto a wall and scaled up it to the top, hanging upside down without making a sound.
The door slid open as three guards appeared holding their guns at ready. Another strangely-dressed purple Grundo stepped in, wearing a mix of a silver business suit coat with matching tie but a black jumpsuit with red stripes beneath them. His black hair was slicked back in a very expensive hairstyle and his long moustache was greasy and well kept. Telzleh tried to keep her head clear as the blood started to rush up due to her hanging on the ceiling.
"My dear Xiggi! What is going here? Why did you scream?" the Grundo asked her as he walked up to her and held her tight in a hug.
The Grundo girl quickly pulled away with slight annoyance in her face. "Father, nothing's wrong! I am so frustrated that you deny your only daughter her one true sister that I screamed from frustration!"
The father's brow darkened as he gritted his teeth. "Never! I will not allow the daughter of Zoriaz Boggbroxx, one of the richest Grundos in all Kreludor, to see a lowly street urchin like her!”
Xiggi stood up and stamped her foot hard. "Zuxie is not an urchin! She and I made a pact of sisterhood way back in the orphanage you first adopt me! Why can't you understand that, Dad?"
Zoriaz turned around as he crossed his arms. "You are too good for someone so plebeian, that's why! Not to worry. The debutante gala is in a few weeks. I'm sure you'll find many new friends there. Grundos of high class and bearing! The ones you deserve!"
The daughter protested, "Father, all those Grundos are so snobby and conceited! Zuxie is the only one who genuinely cared for me! Please, you must understand that!”
"ENOUGH!" Zoriaz yelled back as he turned to face her. "If that wretched girl should ever appear in front of me again, I will see to it she spends the rest of his life behind bars! You'll go to the debutante gala and that's final!"
With that, the purple Grundo stormed out of the room with the guards in tow as the door slid shut again. Telzleh couldn't stand it anymore as she dropped down from the ceiling, landing safely on the bed below. As she shook her head and massaged her temples to get rid of the dizziness. Xiggi was crouched in a corner of the room, crying to herself.
"Father. Why can't you see Zuxie like I do? She’s my sister..." she sobbed.
The mutant felt sorry for the poor girl and slowly placed her hand on her shoulder. Just like that, she felt the amulet's stones glowing from within her mane with great intensity. She was connected to the positive energy she needed, no doubt.
"Listen. Zuxie sent this for you," Telzleh mused as she snapped off the string holding the odd cube and letter and handing them both to Xiggi.
The Grundo girl gasped. "A cloaking device! How ingenious of her! This is what I need to make my escape!" She then read the note slowly. "I see. She wants me to meet up with her right away for something urgent. I wonder why..."
However, her excitement turned sour as she sighed forlornly. "All Dad's guards have heat-vision capabilities. Even if cloaked, they will spot me... unless..."
She then looked at Telzleh with hope in her eyes. The mutant gulped. Somehow, this didn't sound good.
Zoriaz was busy in his office seated on his desk with two guards closing ranks at opposite sides of him. As he finished the last touches on one of his latest security contracts, he heard the door slide open on the far end of the room and he looked up to see nothing. Suddenly, a small frazzled clump of purple hair poked out from the corner of the door as its attached head came to view. Zoriaz was surprised to see this stranger with its three eyes and misshapen buck teeth as she stepped into the room.
"Oops! Sorry. Thought this was the little mutant's room!" Telzleh said, only to blow a raspberry at him and his guards.
Zoriaz slammed his hands on the desk and yelled, "Guards! Capture this intruder at once!" The two Grundo guards drew their guns and ran straight at her.
"And with that, I'm off!" the mutant replied as she ran away with the guards close behind her.
Zoriaz growled as he pushed a button underneath his desk, setting off sirens throughout the entire Boggbroxx compound. All the guards everywhere looked up as they held their guns ready.
"Attention, all personnel!" Zoriaz said through a microphone on the desk, "We have an intruder in the compound. Subject is a strange purple-colored three-eyed Usul. Your orders now are to apprehend this trespasser! Capture her dead or alive! That is all."
Telzleh heard the command as well as she ran through the building. Everyone would be out gunning for her now. One thing was to sneak in past all the guards. However, to now draw all their attention to give Xiggi enough time to escape under the cover of the confusion? The positive energy had better be worth it!
Suddenly a platoon of Grundos appeared before her just before reaching the front exit to the Boggbroxx's living dome. Every one of them pointed at her with their rifles ready to shoot. Looking everywhere for a way out, she quickly latched onto the wall nearby before the spot she stood on was peppered with laser fire.
Crawling along the wall and ceiling, Telzleh kept moving as the laser blasts continued. She finally spotted a ventilation shaft and burst through. Scurrying about the vents, she tried to find a way out into the open. She finally spotted a grate leading outside, kicked it open and soon crawled down the wall to the ground.
Running through the exterior of the complex, she saw more and more security personnel converge on her. Finally she was surrounded close to the entrance of another dome nearby. With her back against the door, she slowly moved her paw around until she felt a panel with buttons. She pushed one and the door slid open and closed behind her. As soon as she did, she found another panel in its interior and swiped it with her claws, shooting sparks as it started to break down. Outside she could hear shouts and pounding on the door as the guards had no way to follow her inside. Breathing a sigh of relief, she turned around to see where she was.
She gasped as she noticed a large variety of machines she had never seen before in her life. They looked quite strange, as they had large square bodies with what looked to be legs on the bottom of them and a vast array of weapons and metal arms were all over their frame. The front of each machine looked to be made of plastic or glass with what looked to be controls inside which meant the machine was controlled from inside. What could they be?
Suddenly, she heard sizzling behind her as a small beam started to form on the door, creating a small circular shape. The guards would soon be in. Telzleh grew more scared by the moment. How would she go up against all those guards now? She then eyed one of the machines as an idea formed in her mind.
Running up to one, she started to search for a way to its interior, pushing and hitting the side until the plastic cover opened up and she climbed inside. Seated in a chair inside, she did a double take as she saw the enormous varieties of buttons, cranks and handles in front of her. Sighing to herself, she started to touch every single button and turned every handle and crank hoping any of them did something.
Finally, the circle outline on the door was completed and a huge hole was formed as the circle was kicked off. All the guards started to enter and locked their guns on her and the machine. At last, one button managed to activate the machine as the entire panel lit up and it quickly stood up on its metallic legs.
"Watch out! She's activated one of the walkers! Stop her!" one of the Grundo guards shouted as the rest of the force started to surround her.
Getting more scared by the second, Telzleh immediately grabbed a handle at her left-hand side and twisted it. Suddenly the walker swung its left arm and knocked an entire guard mob off their feet. She realized what the handle did and then started to turn one on her right-hand side. The right arm of the robot swung out and tossed off even more guards.
Confidence building within her, she saw some pedals under her feet. Despite the fact that they looked advanced, she knew what pedals were for from riding bikes. Using them, she saw the metallic legs began to move and Telzleh was on her way. With the arms, she smashed through the wall and marched outside as more and more guards appeared.
"We can't let her escape with that walker! Shoot her now!" another Grundo guard snapped as everyone began to fire at her.
The lasers shook the walker around and Telzleh knew unless she figured out a way to counterattack, she'd be done for. Looking around the control panel, she spotted a small handle with a red button and immediately pressed it. A gun appeared on the roof of the walker and started to fire at the guards. The Grundos scrambled for cover as they avoided the incoming salvo much to the mutant Usul's relief. With the gun blasting and arms swinging, Telzleh made her way to the front of the compound and reached the gates. However, neither the gun nor the arms were powerful enough to dent a hole in the thickly-fortified entrance. Telzleh heard the Grundos approach her again and realized she had to get out and soon!
Pressing more buttons and turning more handles, she then heard a warning klaxon from inside the machine. She gulped, realizing that wasn't good as a small digital countdown appeared in front of her. Sweating heavily, she then knew she had to abandon her machine now!
Crazily pressing and touching everything in sight, she cheered when the plastic cover of the cockpit at last opened up and the seat shot into the sky as the machine exploded with great force. Telzleh thought she was safe, only to realize the chair was descending at an alarming speed. Without a way to cushion her fall, she knew this was finally her end.
Suddenly, she felt the chair's speed decelerate as it slowly floated down. The mutant was at a loss for words. How did she manage to save herself? That chair was going so fast that she thought she'd be mush when it landed! However, there was no time to wonder as she quickly bounced along the rocky Kreludan surface towards the rendezvous point where Zuxie and hopefully Xiggi would be waiting.
Back at the Boggbroxx complex, Zoriaz looked at the destruction the intruder caused. The wall of the walker depot was decimated, while several of the guards were injured by errant bullets, impacts of robotic arms and the explosion of the commandeered walker unit. Not to mention the explosion destroyed the gates. The Grundo pounded his fist against his chair as the security camera screens showed static. How could an intruder manage to enter his own facilities? If anyone so much as heard of this, he'd be a laughing stock and nobody would dare make business with him again.
As he brooded over this turn of events, a female purple Grundo with her orange hair tied in a bun and wearing a white jumpsuit ran up to him. "Master Zoriaz, I bring horrible news! Your daughter has escaped!" she exclaimed with worry.
"What?! How could she..." He pounded a fist in his open palm as the realization hit him. "Of course! That orange Grundo punk! She must have sent that mutant in to distract the entire forces while my dear little girl escaped in the chaos!"
The maid shook her head sadly. “Don’t you see? I told you that Grundo girl would eventually cause trouble to your family...”
Zoriaz nodded as he pulled out a small machine from his suit jacket’s pocket. Small faint beeps were heard as a tiny dot flickered on the screen. "Good thing I secretly planted a tracking device on her hairband long ago. Perfect. This will lead me to her. I imagine that Usul and most likely that base-born orange Grundo are there as well..."
A guard then walked up to him and stood at attention. "Shall we deploy a garrison to go after her, sir?"
Zoriaz shook his head. "No, Captain Qixxot. We need all the necessary manpower here to help with repairs to the depot and the gates. She is my daughter and I will deal with her myself." He got up from his chair as he walked out of the office with several guards in tow.
"It's time for me to personally discipline those unruly girls..."
Zuxie tapped her foot against the rocky soil as she waited near the crater fields outside the dome. This place was dangerous with the constant meteors and asteroids that fell from the sky, hence why nobody would build anything here. She grew impatient. She did tell both Xiggi and Telzleh to meet her here just in case Boggbroxx sent his security forces to search for them in the domes. She finally saw the mutant Usul running up while taking deep breaths as exhaustion set in and steamed up the front of her helmet.
"Nice going, Telzleh. For a second, I thought the guards would have finished you off,” the orange Grundo said as she ran up to her. She then had a worried stare as she looked around. "Hold up. Where’s Xiggi?"
"Thank you, Zuxie. I knew you would not abandon me,” said a voice out of nowhere, which made the two look around in confusion. With small crackles and a flash, Xiggi magically appeared before them as she twisted a small dial of the cube Telzleh delivered, now connected to the belt of her jumpsuit.
"It was hard enough to use the cloaking device and avoid all those guards running around, but that explosion really made things difficult. You were amazing, Telzleh. I never knew anyone outside the security forces could make so much damage with a Model-1 Walker before."
Telzleh rubbed the back of her head nervously as Zuxie ran up to her sister. They both hugged each other as they cried in each other’s shoulders. Telzleh crossed her arms and felt proud of herself to help them out. However, she expected the energy orb to appear when these two finally reunited as this was a moment of positive emotion, but it didn't. Something was wrong here.
Zuxie finally let go of Xiggi down on the floor and said to her in a very serious tone, "Xiggi, listen for a sec here. Your dad is not going to forgive you and me since I helped you escape and sent Telzleh here to break things up. We really can't stay here in Kreludor. We must leave this place far behind and go elsewhere.”
Xiggi's face changed from happy to distraught as she released the hug. "No, sister. We can't do that. My father..."
Zuxie placed her arm around her shoulder in comfort. "Listen, sis, I know you're scared he will catch us. But don't worry about it. I got it all figured out. One of my buds at the port will let us hide on a ship headed to the space station. From there we will make our way to Neopia and we can hide there. If he even tries to cut off your funding, I’ll take care of you. I protected you back at Miss Jinjix’s and I’ll protect you out there again! Count on it!"
Xiggi pulled free and looked at him with a mix of concern and annoyance. "Zuxie, listen to me! My father’s guards are not like those mean boys and girls in the orphanage. This is much different. Listen. We made a pact of sisterhood and I love you dearly as my friend. But I also love my adoptive father since he's the only family I have. Sure, he is very strict with me and sometimes he acts like one of Sloth's mutants, but that is because I'm all he's got family-wise. He wants me to be happy and prosperous once he passes on. Don't you see? The only way I can be truly happy is that I want him to accept you just like the way I do!"
"Him? Accept me? You must be joking! He hates me!” the orange Grundo protested.
Xiggi immediately interrupted, "Please, Zuxie. Understand that I want you and my father. You're the only ones I care about and I can't choose between the both of you. We must find a way for him to accept you and that's that."
The punkish Grundo sighed sadly and nodded her head slowly. Telzleh rolled her eyes and moaned in annoyance. Getting Zoriaz to accept Zuxie would be like getting the Esophagor to stop eating. Worse, if he so much as saw her again, it probably would not end well for her. After all, nobody would forgive someone who singlehandedly created a bedlam in their own house.
"Ok, you win. But he hates me to the core and he won't be happy that I sent someone to help you escape, y'know," Zuxie said solemnly.
Xiggi hugged her tightly with reassurance. "Oh, Daddy may get a bit angry about that, but I'm sure he won't be that furious."
"Furious? Furious is an understatement at this moment in time, my daughter!" boomed a voice followed by footsteps that shook the entire area with its intensity.
The three of them looked ahead in the distance as what appeared to be an enormous machine was heading straight for them. The machine eventually leaped up and landed with an earth-shattering quake that made them all jump a few feet in the air and land rather painfully on the ground.
Telzleh’s mouth hung open as she looked up in the air. Before her was the biggest walker she ever saw. The one she destroyed was like a toy compared to this mechanical monster. Walking on four legs and wielding guns on every part of its body, this machine was built for war. The walker leaned forward for all of them to see the cockpit where Zoriaz sat controlling it.
The cockpit screen slid open and the purple Grundo tycoon stood up. "Xiggi, you make me sad. You disobeyed my orders and met up with this lowly commoner. Why can't you see I'm doing this for your own good?!" he demanded.
Xiggi looked up at him and replied, "Father. Realize the folly of your actions. Isn't my happiness what you really want? I am happy being with my sister, but I'm also happy being with you. Why can't you open your eyes and see the wonder she radiates with?"
Zoriaz scoffed, "Wonder? Her? I know her type! Gutter trash with connections to rebellious cads and punks! Can you imagine the sort of company she associates with? They would create total destruction with their rebellious parties and soirees! I'd imagine her living unit is a hazardous waste site of its own! Do you have any idea how much I would suffer if anything happens to you, my one and only daughter?"
Xiggi looked at Zuxie, who simply stood there looking down getting angrier by the second with the insults hurled at her direction, and then back to her father. "Zuxie may not be a Grundo of culture you expect me to be with, but she always protected me when I was still in that orphanage and has shown me true friendship! Please, Father, accept Zuxie..."
Zoriaz stamped his foot. "Silence! It's time I show you the error of your ways! I'll take you back home this instant and have this urchin spend the rest of her life in jail!” he shouted as he reached down with one arm towards the girls.
Before he could grab them, Telzleh jumped between the arms and the duo. Zoriaz's expression turned to blind fury at the sight of her.
"If you want them, you've got to get through me first!" she said as she pointed a clawed finger straight at him.
"You! The mutant who made a mockery of my forces! I'll deal with you first!" he thundered as the cockpit slid back on and he prepared to fight.
Without time to spare, Zoriaz began to fire a multitude of bullets at her from guns placed on the walker's side. Telzleh jumped to the side while Zuxie and Xiggi ran for cover behind a large boulder. The mutant got back on her feet as she ran ahead of the bullet spray closing in on her. Running in different directions to avoid the locking sights of the guns, Telzleh finally reached one of the enormous legs of the walker and climbed it up. Using her claws to latch onto the metal, she scurried around the walker until she stood at its top.
Carefully balancing atop its smooth dome, Telzleh noticed the walker shoot out six large arms with sharp grasping clamps at its ends straight at her. With great agility, she avoided and flipped around as the claws failed miserably to snag her. Eventually, the arms receded and she waited for the next move. She was ready for everything. Or so she thought.
Before she could react, the walker started to generate an enormous pulse of electrical energy around its entire body, enveloping it in a blanket of shocking power. Telzleh was unable to predict this as the electricity started to course through her body with horrendous pain. Finally, the electrical surge ended and the mutant Usul got to her knees and slowly slid off of the top of the walker and into the crushing claw of one of its arms.
The arms slowly moved her close to the cockpit where Zoriaz opened it up. Telzleh weakly opened one eye as the gloating face of the Grundo was in front of her. "Did you think I would destroy you that easily? That surge wasn't even close to 100 volts. If I could have used its full power, you'd be fried to a crisp. But no, instead I'll enjoy squeezing the life out of you. Yes, I'll do just that. Enjoy your last moments of life ruing you ever crossed paths with Zoriaz Boggbroxx!"
With that, the arm started to grip her weakened body tighter and tighter. Telzleh's pain was unbearable. Her eyes began to close as she began to lose consciousness. Before the third could completely close, she noticed a small twinkle in the sky. That twinkle immediately turned into a shooting star which was quickly approaching her.
"A shooting star... please... save me... Sisters... I’m sorry..."
When she finally passed out, she failed to notice the shooting star become an asteroid which was shooting straight at the walker. The asteroid landed with dynamic impact on the machine and its arm released her comatose form.
The large asteroid slammed itself on top of the robot, crushing its body and destroying its arms and legs. From within the machine, Zoriaz screamed for help as the asteroid was blocking half the cockpit and prevented him from abandoning his destroyed machine. A klaxon began to blare from the walker itself and everyone present knew what that meant.
"Someone help me! The asteroid damaged the walker's core and it turned critical! It's about to explode and I can't get out! Someone! Anyone! SAVE ME!" he pleaded as he tried effortlessly to move the crushed cockpit screen to escape.
Suddenly, Zuxie ran from her hiding spot and straight towards the wrecked walker as Xiggi followed. Between the two of them, they pulled the cockpit screen aside with all their might and finally were able to reach Zoriaz. Grabbing him by his arms, they pulled the security tycoon out of his machine and carried him to safety. Without a moment to spare, Zuxie returned for the unconscious Telzleh and carried her off the as well.
As soon as they all managed to hide behind the enormous boulder, the machine exploded with tremendous force, shaking the ground under their feet. Lucky for all of them, the boulder was large enough to shield them from all the debris that was sent flying when the machine self-destructed.
Zuxie felt dizzy and faint from all the exercise as she leaned against the boulder, breathing heavily. Xiggi walked up to her and gave her a big hug.
"Sister, you are truly amazing. You helped me save my own father despite his hatred. You are truly a wonderful Grundo," she said joyfully as she hugged more tightly.
The orange Grundo smiled back as she patted her shoulder "Heh. What kind of sister would I be if your dad was gone? I did what was right... right?"
Zoriaz just sat there on the floor looking up at his daughter and the one who saved his life. He then stared right at his feet, a stern look in his eyes. Xiggi and Zuxie then walked up to him and the purple Grundo tycoon stared up at them once more.
"You see, Father? This 'commoner' risked her own life to save you. Nobody outside your own forces would ever do that. That is the one I made an eternal pact of sisterhood with," Xiggi explained as they held each other’s arm.
Zuxie then cleared her throat and said, "Mr. Boggbroxx. I am not perfect, y'know? I may not be the daintiest or even the most polite, but I swear I would totally do everything I can to make Xiggi happy."
Zoriaz looked down. "Why did you save me? I was unworthy to be saved since I finally realized it was my own stubbornness which caused this entire problem to begin with..."
Zuxie leaned towards him. "Xiggi already lost her family before. She shouldn't lose her new one, too. I just did it for her to be happy and stuff. And now, I will go now. If you don’t ever want me near her, then I don’t care. As long as Xiggi is happy, I’ll be okay..."
As she walked away Zoriaz called out to her, "Wait there, young Zuxie. Xiggi has told me time and time again about the misfortunes you suffered after she left. It was that care for you which made her always escape from me to make you happy. I was foolish not to do this in the past and I won’t repeat that mistake again. If you still wish, I will gladly take you in... as my daughter!”
Zuxie turned around as both she and Xiggi gasped. “You mean...” the orange Grundo asked as Xiggi’s eyes lit up with joy.
Zoriaz nodded. “From now on, you are officially my daughter and Xiggi’s sister. Welcome to the family... Zuxie Boggbroxx!”
Xiggi then started to hug her father tightly. "Oh, thank you, Father! Thank you ever so much!"
Zuxie began to shed a tear as she ran up to them, went down on her knees and hugged him as well. "Awesome, Mr. Boggbroxx, I mean, Dad! You won't regret this decision!"
Zoriaz chuckled slowly as he placed his arms around both of his daughters for a large group hug. Despite unconscious nearby, Telzleh's amulet started to flicker as all three of the Grundos were surrounded by an aura of light. The positive energy spheres shot out of the trio, forming into one larger ball, and landed on Telzleh's amulet as the third black stone was finally activated. The love of acceptance and family was the power needed to make the next stone come to life. Before they could realize what happen, Telzleh vanished right before their eyes.
As she did, they failed to notice that they were slowly turning to stone. Within a few painless seconds, it was all over and all three statues were locked in the group hug they were all in just before the energy left them.
The maid slowly approached the statues. She grinned with evil as she saw them. Closing her eyes, she was surrounded by dark energy and transformed into another shape. One far more malevolent and wicked surrounded by a dark aura of pure energy protecting it from the harsh Kreludan atmosphere. The disguise was perfect to infiltrate that stupid Grundo and feed his mind with unsavory thoughts. It was also quite easy casting a spell to soften the amulet carrier's fall after her escape from the compound, but it took a lot of power to summon the asteroid to destroy the machine before it crushed her. It wouldn't be long now. Soon everything would be ready. The shadow quickly disappeared in a flash of dark light.
Fyora looked concerned as she saw the two statues before her eyes placed in pedestals in the hallway leading to her throne room. One statue was of the Techo boy the Neovian citizens found and wanted her assistance earlier to solve. The other was found by the Negg Faerie after she went out to investigate rumbling within the Ice Caves. She found this pair of Wockies, one old and one young, frozen in a hug.
She was confused by this. Both these cases were connected somehow but she had no idea. The spell they were under was extremely powerful as not even her own Rod was capable of healing them. This was a spell beyond faerie abilities.
The Library Faerie suddenly flew in and kneeled before her queen. “Your Majesty. The scribes are still searching the books for any mention of this strange curse. We have not found anything, but we are doing everything we can,” she explained.
Fyora looked concerned. “Do so. We must find the cause of this quickly before anything worse should occur.”
“Too late, my Queen,” said a voice which made both the faeries look around in confusion. In a glitter of stardust, the Space Faerie magically appeared before them. Her face expressed complete sadness.
“I bring you bad news from Kreludor. More statues were found...”
To be continued...